Back to Kampala

This week Vanessa and I made two different trips to Kampala.  The first was just a quick visit with two of the members of the women’s textiles group, to purchase fabric for the yoga, shoulder and patch bags that Shanti sells in Canada.  A big order was put in for bags for Vancouver Fashion Week, so Kristen will be taking nearly a hundred bags back with her when she flies to Canada at the end of the month.

It was interesting tagging along as Robinah and Teopista made their way through the various fabric shops – they’ve got favourite spots to go, and don’t waste any time getting there!  Within the hour we’d returned to the taxi park with our purchases and hopped on a matatu back to Kasana.  As we were going down the stairs back into the park, I grabbed this quick photo, but it’s hard to capture the look and feel of the area, especially when you’re trying to do so as fast as possible.  The taxi park is the area of Kampala where I find myself most wanting to take photos, and also among the worst spots to be walking around carrying a digital camera.  Another time when I’m sitting near a window in a matatu, I may be able to take some pictures of everything going on there.

A couple of days after our fabric expedition, Vanessa and I headed back to Kampala for our days off.  Since we were leaving midweek rather than on a Friday afternoon (the busiest time to try to get to the capital), we only ran into a little bit of traffic as we approached the city, which our driver avoided by detouring through residential (and extremely potholed) roads.  This was our first time going overnight anywhere without Kristen, and luckily we didn’t run into any troubles.  We were staying at hostels we had already been to, which helped, and took boda bodas to get around.  On one of our rides we both squeezed onto the same bike, which, considering we each had our daypacks on, must have looked pretty funny to anyone who saw us speeding past.  Vanessa describes taking a boda in Kampala as being akin to travelling in Vancouver rush hour times ten, if the roads were full of potholes and everyone was drunk.  Sounds like quite an apt description to me…

The weather led to a few entertaining moments during our stay.  It had been raining in the taxi park before our arrival, which meant that we had to trek through the mud there to get to the boda bodas.  Vanessa managed to step in a giant puddle and cake her feet and pants with the brown stuff, which elicited quite a bit of laughter and some good-natured shouts of “welcome to Africa” from the locals.  While we were eating lunch on Thursday, there was an absolutely massive hail storm that seemed to come out of nowhere (as weather in Uganda often does).  I took a video to give an idea of how loud it was, and was recording just as the water began rushing down the street.  Quite a sight…  By the time we were walking out of the restaurant, the storm had lightened to just a slight drizzle.  Thankfully, it didn’t rain while we were on the bodas – riding the motorcycles is enough of an adrenaline rush all on its own.

One of our reasons for going to Kampala this week was to catch a play that was on at the National Theatre, just across the street from the hostel we stayed at.  The play, called “Cooking Oil”, was written by a Ugandan playwright, and looked at the impact of foreign aid on the developing world, through the story of a young girl selling cooking oil to raise money to pay for her school fees.  This was the last weekend the play was on, so we were glad to have made it in time to see it.  I’ll likely end up going to quite a few things at the National Theatre during my time here – they’ve got a lot of interesting weekly music and performance events, and have different plays, ballets and musical acts constantly.  We attended a comedy night there on Thursday, and really enjoyed seeing what topics were chosen to satirize and which jokes got the most laughs from the Ugandan audience.

We arrived back in Kasana late Friday afternoon, and although we had power when we first returned, it has since gone out, leaving us once again sitting in the living room working by candlelight.  So really, not much seems to have changed during our absence…


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  • Kate

    Thanks for posting Jaime! Wow thats a lot of hail 🙂 Keep posting videos!
    That play sounded pretty cool. We’re all following your posts!
    Today we went to get our pumpkins for halloween!
    How are you going to celebrate it?

  • Lorna J McRae

    Wow !! Your written voice sounds so calm and smart! You are brill!
    I love the pictures and your blog. Thanks so much. And, echoing your mother – does anyone have a helmet??
    xo miss you
    PS I have passed your blog information along to a young woman named Sasha Sauve (she grew up near me in Glen Nevis area) and she will be travelling around the world and is wanting to do volunteer work around birth in low resource settings. She has been a doula supreme here in Victoria with low income women.) It would be great if you could touch base with her. Thanks.

  • Heather

    The sound effects are impressive Jaime. Quite the dump. It reminds me of Kananaskis in August ! You’re certainly getting around the country. Glad that you’re able to take in the local cultural events. The play sounds very interesting and thought provoking. It’s an ongoing process of reflection and evaluation when north meets south or when developed meets developing. Yikes to the boda bodas — do you have a helmet??!